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Review: The Art of Building a Bunker (Factory Theatre/Quiptake)

October 24th, 2014

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The Art of Building a Bunker is a hilarious one-man show on social awkwardness on stage at Toronto’s Factory Theatre

In The Art of Building a Bunker, Adam Lazarus and Guillermo Verdecchia explore questions of sensitivity, political correctness and the socially acceptable through the scope of one man’s experience at workplace sensitivity training. This one-man show was previously introduced to the Toronto theatre scene in 2013 at the Summerworks Festival, now bringing a wry, poignant and frequently absurd sense of humour to Factory Theatre’s 45th season.

Lazarus is the “one-man” in question, embodying the tale of Elvis, a guy who has to suffer through the touchy-feely self-reflection of sensitivity training. Elvis can’t stand being there and makes this pretty obvious throughout the whole show through bursts of hilarious improprieties. Aside from Elvis, Lazarus channels the rest of the sensitivity training course participants including the leader, bringing to life a cast of fully realized kooky characters with only the nod of his head or the flick of his wrist.

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Review: L’Implorante & L’éternel voyage (Harbourfront Centre)

October 24th, 2014

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L’Implorante and L’éternel are a contrasting dance double-header playing at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre

We’ve all experienced that feeling of uncertainty around art. You stand in front of a work, and even though you know it’s good, you don’t know what to do. How to respond? Every now and then, however, you’ll find something that erases the question: You connect — deeply, almost painfully — and suddenly find that you can’t let go.

L’implorante, a collaboration between the well-known Toronto-based choreographer Sylvie Bouchard (co-founder of Dusk Dances) and Claude Guilmain (Le Théâtre la Tangente) currently showing at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre, reaches out of the space where great art makes an unanticipated impact. Bouchard plays an unnamed choreographer who responds with unexpected force to a sculpture she finds in Paris, culminating in a moment of total identification and ecstasy.

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Review: Bookworms (Toronto Irish Players)

October 24th, 2014

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The Toronto Irish Players bring the comedy of book club meetings to the Alumnae Theatre stage with Bookworms

To me, the idea of women inviting their husbands to a meeting of their book club is both intriguing and hilarious. Luckily, playwright Bernard Farrell wrote a play based on this very premise – and although it is undoubtedly a comedy, it can also be considered an in-depth character study. The Toronto Irish Players opened their 40th season last night with Bookworms, which is now playing at the Alumnae Theatre.

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Preview: Les Coquettes Bid Farewell with a BANG!

October 24th, 2014

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Leading cabaret and burlesque troupe Les Coquettes bid a fond farewell to the Toronto stage

For the past 11 years, the lovely ladies and gents of Les Coquettes have wowed and dazzled Toronto audiences with their signature blend of song-and-dance cabaret with tongue-in-cheek burlesque. Their performances taking up residence at Toronto’s Revival Club have sold out year after year and their Halloween and holiday spectacles have become a regular tradition for many.

And now with a bittersweet turn, the fine Coquettes have decided to hang up their garters and stockings with their final show in time for this year’s All Hallow’s Eve. As apropos to the troupe, they’ve decided to go out with a BANG!

With two final nights at the Revival and only four opportunities to see this troupe perform for the last time, be sure to grab your tickets as they’re selling out fast.

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Review: (re)Birth: E. E. Cummings in Song (Soulpepper / Global Cabaret Series)

October 24th, 2014

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Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre presents (re)Birth: E. E. Cummings in song as part of their Global Cabaret Festival

In his curtain speech before (re)Birth: E. E. Cummings in Song, artistic director Albert Schultz welcomed us home. On his account, (re)Birth represents one of Soulpepper‘s great successes. Not just a marvelous piece of theatre on its own merits, and not just a testament to the strength of their Academy program — perhaps the best early-career program for theatre workers in English Canada — (re)Birth is a tiny glimpse at the beating heart of Soulpepper: musical, lively, accessible, unpredictable, polished and — above all — playful. Its initial run did do so well that it was brought back, extended, remounted, and here it is, alive once more, to open their 7th annual Global Cabaret Festival.

The hour-long show presents somewhere between 12 and 15 of Cummings’ poems in varied musical styles: “goodbye Betty, don’t remember me” as dixieland jazz; “maggie and milly and molly and may” as heavy metal; “i like my body when it is with your” as a sultry Parisian waltz. The company of 10, dressed in utilitarian Edwardian costumes — all tweeds and browns, accessorized with oversized gumboots, images of sparrows, and newspaper pirate hats — play their own instruments and do their own stagecraft. The whole thing is sweet and innocent, like a school play or a community pantomime.

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Review: Lobby Hero (Unit 102 Actors Company)

October 23rd, 2014

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Unit 102 Actors Company’s Lobby Hero strikes the perfect balance at The Theatre Machine in Toronto

Lobby Hero is the first show put on by Unit 102 Actors Company in the newly re-branded venue, The Theatre Machine. Hot on the heels of their intense production of American Buffalo comes this very funny and occasionally poignant tale of a laid back security guard who just wants to “do the right thing.”

That particular phrasing sounds bland and painfully conventional. It conjures up the sort of slacker-hero worship that pops up frequently in American comedies. That is, a twenty-something, straight,white dude who just doesn’t quite have his act together, whose struggles will (ostensibly) inspire himself and others! Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Zombie Prom (The Confidential Musical Theatre Project)

October 22nd, 2014

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The Confidential Musical Theatre Project tackles Zombie Prom in its second Toronto instalment

The Confidential Musical Theatre Project is an innovative new performance concept that recently held its second show in Toronto. You can click here to find out more about the core concept, but it basically boils down to: No group rehearsals before the performance, and keeping the audience in the dark about which show is being performed right up until curtain time.

This time, the play was Zombie Prom – which took the CMTP in a direction that didn’t resonate with me, but I can certainly see why they attempted it.

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Review: Sidekicks & Secret Identities (Monkeyman Productions)

October 22nd, 2014

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Superhero antics take over the stage at Toronto’s Fraser Studios in Sidekicks & Secret Identities

Sidekicks Secret Identitiess - Sean KaufmannUp, up and away! If you’re into comic book conundrums, venture over to Toronto’s Fraser Studios for Monkeyman Productions‘ Sidekicks & Secret Identities.

Our evening about undercover wonders was made up of three stories: Sidekicks by Manda Whitney and Errol Elumir, and two shorter pieces Fortress of Solitude and Super by D.J. Sylvis.

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Review: Uplica (Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie)

October 21st, 2014

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Hip hop infused contemporary dance lit up Toronto’s Citadel in Uplica

Commissioned by Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, Uplica is a beautifully choreographed one hour dance show that features two of Toronto’s top dancers, Laurence Lemieux and Erin Poole. It was the choreographers of this show, Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Sinbadinho (Gadfly), that captured my attention and piqued my interest to watch the show. Not really knowing what to expect, I went into the theatre with the slightest hunch that I was about to see some very interesting choreography and dancing. And luckily, my hunch was right!

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Cheap Theatre for the Week of October 21st, 2014

October 21st, 2014

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Instead of our typical five-show recommendation, this week’s Cheap Theatre listing is a suggestion to check out the Global Cabaret Festival, which is being put on by Soulpepper. To quote the event site, “the Global Cabaret Festival lineup is composed of SongbooksFeature Performances, and Cabarets, encompassing a wide range of theatrical themes and forms including jazz, pop, opera, musical theatre and the best of classic cabaret standards”. With such a wide variety of styles and performances, there’s bound to be cabarets that appeal to any theatregoer. Check out the performance schedule here. Tickets can be bought online, starting at $23 ($20 for students), with discounts if you buy packages of 3 or 6! Definitely sounds like some good, Cheap Theatre to me!